Ingram Square Shopping Center business reopens following fatal fire

Texas Thrift Store was closed for five months

SAN ANTONIO – One of the businesses in the Ingram Square Shopping Center reopened Friday for the first time since a fire that claimed the life of a firefighter and injured another five months ago.

For some customers, the reopening was exciting, but the tragedy was still in the back of their minds.

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"This store provides a great service for the community, just for, you know, low-income people," said Carlos Gonzalez, who said he's shopped at the store for 10 years. "It's just a tragedy what happened to that fireman, and this is a living memorial for, you know, his sake, and his family."

The store has been closed since May 18, when a massive four-alarm fire tore through a wide portion of the shopping center, killing firefighter Scott Deem and severely injuring firefighter Brad Phipps.

Related: Scott Deem remembered as family man, dedicated firefighter

Emond Johnson, the owner of a gym in the shopping center, admitted to setting the fire, fire officials said. He has been charged with murder and arson.

"I mean, every time when everybody walks in here, they'll feel a little bit sad because of what happened," said Antonio Amesquita, a loyal shopper.

Texas Thrift Store director Keith Dils remembers getting the store back in shape.

Related: Firefighter injured in massive blaze at Ingram Square released from hospital

"All the water damage. We had to take plywood or sheetrock out, replace it," Dils said. "But the customer base, they kept coming and asking, 'When are you're going to open? When are you're going to open?' We kept everybody employed at our sister stores." 

One customer said that while residents need to remember the sacrifice the firefighters paid, the reopening of the store is an opportunity to move on.

Related: Arrest made in death of firefighter Scott Deem

"Not good to look back, just keep on going forward," Irma Gonzales, a customer, said.